Risk perception and preference for prevention of Alzheimer's disease

Value Health. 2009 Jun;12(4):450-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4733.2008.00482.x. Epub 2009 Jan 12.


Objectives: To understand how older adults perceive their risk of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and how this may shape their medical care decisions, we examined whether presence of established risk factors of AD is associated with individuals' perceived risk of AD, and with preference for preventing AD.

Participants: Data came from the US Health and Retirement Study participants who were asked questions on AD risk perception (N = 778).

Measurements: Perceived risk of AD was measured by respondents' estimate of their percent chance (0-100) developing AD in the next 10 years. Preference for AD prevention was measured with questions eliciting willingness to pay for a drug to prevent AD.

Analysis: Multivariate linear regressions were used to estimate correlates of perceived risk and preference for prevention.

Results: Better cognitive functioning and physical activity are associated with decreased perceived risk. Neither age nor cardiovascular disease is associated with perceived risk. African Americans have lower perceived risk than non-Latino whites; the difference is wider among people age 65 and above. Only 4% to 7% of the variation in perceived risk was explained by the model. Preference for prevention is stronger with increased perceived risk, but not with the presence of risk factors. Persons with better cognitive functioning, physical functioning, or wealth status have a stronger preference for prevention.

Conclusion: Some known risk factors appear to inform, but only modestly, individuals' perceived risk of AD. Furthermore, decisions about AD prevention may not be determined by objective needs alone, suggesting a potential discrepancy between need and demand for AD preventive care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / epidemiology
  • Alzheimer Disease / prevention & control*
  • Alzheimer Disease / psychology
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Assessment / methods*
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Perception*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • United States / epidemiology